As we head out of spring and into summer, parts of our business have suffered owing to the poor weather conditions experienced this year. Generally though, the car wash industry has had a good start to the year.

The dry weather and cold conditions have encouraged more customers to use a car wash rather than get cold hands washing their car outside their house. The hand car wash threat continues of course, but my view is that they are becoming more organised and investing in their businesses, providing a comprehensive valet service for the whole car. This in turn has resulted in their prices rising and our price advantage returning. My local supermarket, which removed trolley washing a couple of years ago, has returned with a properly invested wash area and a fully legal operation.

So what can we do to enhance our struggling wash service? We have to give customers what they need. If interiors are important, then let’s add to the single vacuum that’s been installed for the last decade. A free vacuum for all car wash customers is an easy start, but it has to be powerful and effective, as well as always working, otherwise customers may as well use their own vacuum at home.

I would suggest trying your local competition to see what is successful about the service they offer and where they do well, and emulate it. If they have a queue it’s because customers feel it is worth the wait.

I read that the Germans wash their cars three times more often than the British and yet as a nation we pride ourselves on the look of our cars and spend huge amounts cleaning and polishing, While not everyone will be convinced to try automatic washing, it is amazing what a good offer can do to persuade a customer to take a leap. At Parkfoot we are compiling a database of cars that use our wash, this will allow us to market directly to a fuel customer that has never used our wash.

There is still a huge opportunity to acquire a bigger share of the market, but we need to target our advertising properly. The CWA continues to thrive, in fact we are now the fountain of knowledge that local authorities rely on. This year we will be launching a new marketing programme and the Washmark will be prominent on many more sites.